Chickpea Shortbread Cookies with Clementine Sugar

Gluten-Free   /   Vegan

Chickpea Shortbread Cookies with Clementine Sugar | ourfourforks.com

Before the holidays, Isabel visited me in Boston. Since she’s basically vegan, she is used to lugging around some staple food items just in case she can’t eat what’s served: Larabars, almonds, chestnuts, and, this time, chickpea flour. Why chickpea flour? Socca. Made into a pancake or crepe from just chickpea flour and water, it’s simple to make to accompany any meal.

 

Inspired, I picked up my own bag of chickpea flour this weekend and decided to experiment a bit. I made socca (with some cumin at Isabel’s suggestion), but I also made chickpea shortbread cookies. Chickpea flour, also known as besan or gram flour, is popular in Indian and Middle Eastern cooking and has a characteristically nutty flavor, especially when toasted as it is here. Though Persian chickpea cookies, known as nan-e nokhochi, are traditionally made with canola oil or butter, I used coconut oil, which worked perfectly.

 

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Crispy Baked Polenta with Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

Gluten-Free   /   Vegan

Crispy Baked Polenta with Sun Dried Tomato Pesto | ourfourforks.com

It’s weird – I love cornbread, corn muffins, corn tortillas, corn bread stuffing, but I’ve never been into polenta. It’s not that I disliked it – I just didn’t have the urge to make it, order it or eat it. But my polenta perspective shifted recently when I ordered short ribs and polenta at friend’s birthday dinner and liked the polenta as much as the beef. This week, I saw a recipe for smoked porter-braised beef short ribs with polenta in Food and Wine (via the women at Food52) and made it immediately (with gluten free beer). And it was as good as it looks.

 

As a new polenta fan, I ventured into my cookbook library to find some polenta recipes I had previously skimmed over. Moosewood Restaurant New Classics, an old favorite, inspired me to bake and “bread” the polenta after letting it set, which is what I’ve done here. Crispy baked polenta with sun dried tomato pesto it full of flavor, texture and seasonality. It’s warm and comforting, but the little pop of basil gives a nod to warmer months to come.

 

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Winter Enchiladas with Pumpkin Enchilada Sauce

Gluten-Free   /   Vegan

Winter Enchiladas with Pumpkin Enchilada Sauce | ourfourforks.com

January is when winter truly starts for me. The excitement of the holidays and warm weather vacations mask the cold of November and December pretty well. January in Boston – especially after spending some time in the Bahamas – is when real winter sets in.

 

I felt like I dove headfirst into January this week – right off the airplane into 20-degree weather and into the work week. Since it’s January I, like most people, would like to eat a little lighter and healthier than I have over the past couple of months but sometimes being slammed back into real life makes that seem difficult to do.

 

Instead of order from our neighborhood Tasty Burger, I decided to use of some healthy ingredients I had stored away and make enchiladas with pumpkin enchilada sauce. Using pumpkin purée and salsa from my pantry and vegetables and corn tortillas from my freezer, I was able to make a comforting, healthy and delicious meal to last a few nights – and avoid a tired, hungry, after-work trip to the grocery store.

 

Pumpkin enchilada sauce is vegan, gluten free and full of Mexican flavor with the seasonal creaminess of pumpkin. To fill the enchiladas, I roasted some vegetables I cubed and froze from my CSA – butternut squash, beets and parsnips– but any veggies will work here. Frozen corn, chopped kale, broccoli– get as elaborate or keep it as simple as you want. I always keep small 100% corn tortillas in the freezer for quick gluten free meals, but brown rice tortillas would also be good.

 

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Crumbly Gingerbread Oat Bars

Gluten-Free   /   Vegan

Crumbly Gingerbread Oat Bars | ourfourforks.com

While I was living in London, I discovered British flapjacks, often individually wrapped by the checkout counter in grocery stores.  They’re easy to grab and seemingly healthy – like a soft granola bar. I assumed they were a relatively smart snacking choice until, while eating my second (or third or fourth), I realized that they’re no different from American granola bars; sugar with some oats.

 

Isabel visited Boston this past weekend, so we got to do some healthy holiday baking. Inspired by flapjacks and the date and oat slices in one of my favorite cookbooks, Breakfast, Lunch and Tea: The Many Little Meals of the Rose Bakery, we decided to bake our own, healthier oat gingerbread bars.

 

These gingerbread bars have a soft base and topping made from gluten free oats, coconut oil and fresh ginger. Between the oat layers is a ginger spiced chewy date layer, which provides most of the sweetness. Cut these bars into any size (the smaller you cut them, the more crumbly they get) and enjoy for breakfast or an afternoon snack with tea. Or drizzle with a little melted white chocolate and serve for dessert.

 

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Vegan Eggnog French Toast

Gluten-Free   /   Vegan

Vegan Eggnog French Toast | ourfourforks.com

French toast isn’t something I make often for a couple of reasons. It seems complicated – more so than pancakes or waffles, though I can’t figure out my logic here – and too heavy for just an ordinary breakfast.

 

This vegan eggnog french toast debunks those beliefs, especially if you have some extra vegan eggnog smoothie on hand. Simply dredge some gluten free bread in healthy eggnog, lightly brown on both sides in a skillet and – done: vegan eggnog french toast.

 

I made my vegan eggnog french toast using the master bread recipe from Gluten-Free Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day (if you’re gluten free, get this book!), substituting the four egg whites with two flax eggs. To make the loaf, I used the gluten free flour blend demonstrated on the Gluten Free Girl blog. Any gluten free bread should work, but I’d suggest a heartier bread rather than something pre-sliced.

 

For this recipe, I used some extra vegan eggnog smoothie (which I made with Vega’s new protein powder), but other eggnog recipes should also work.

 

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